Subscribe via RSS Feed
banner ad
Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Nelson Without Opal Page : 5.13.09

[ 13 ] May 13, 2009 |
©2009 NCL Magazine : Photo By Yvette Stafford : Flowers have been placed as a memorial outside the home of Opal Page in Afton, Virginia after her May 6th murder.

©2009 NCL Magazine : Photo By Yvette Stafford : Flowers have been placed as a memorial outside the home of Opal Page in Afton, Virginia after her May 6th murder.

Afton
Nelson County, Virginia
By Tommy Stafford

I didn’t know Opal Page. I wish I had. I knew so many people like she was described to me when growing up back in rural West Tennessee . This has been a tough week for all of us in Nelson and nearby. This is where we live, our home. Whether you were born and raised here, or if you moved here later in life, like we did, the realization that bad things happen to good people is alive and well. Opal was a good person. No. A great person. I didn’t have to know her to know that. Just ask anyone. What a tribute to a wonderful woman with such a tragic ending. Adults with their own children now, smile with tears in their eyes, remembering Mrs. Page and the effect she had on them when they were just children only a few years ago.

It’s so true how you view things differently once you have your own child. I look at our 7 month old and wonder how someone so innocent can turn out so different just a couple of decades later. There’s a triple tragedy here. No one wins. Three families have been forever changed. No birthday, no Christmas, no anniversary will ever be the same. Someone will always be missing.

It’s been tough for Yvette and me to decide where to be in the coverage on this sad, sad, event. Nelson County is such a beautiful place. Peaceful. Serene. Home. On the one hand we try to promote the good here and leave the bad behind. But, at the same time you are our neighbors, our friends, our family. If you knew about something that might harm us, I’d want you to let us know. We wanted you to know what was happening by the minute this past week. That’s why we felt it important to cover this story from the time it happened one week ago today, until the time the suspects were apprehended on Monday.

I didn’t know David Brooks until I met him back in the old Ashely’s Market in 2004. Having run for sheriff myself almost 20 years ago in Tennessee, I immediately became interested when David told me he was running for Sheriff one day here. I liked David, but knew nothing about him. I knew he was a man of integrity. He wasn’t about pomp and circumstance, he simply loved Nelson where he grew up and he loved the people living here. They are his friends, his family too. Sheriff Brooks lost a member of his Nelson family last week. He and his staff made a personal committment to find the people responsible for Mrs. Page’s murder. Having been a former lawman myself, their work wasn’t just good folks, it was exemplary. Catching both suspects in less than a week is a tremendous accomplishment. Thank these men and women in the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department. Thank the men and women in the other agencies that pitched in to apprehend the two suspects. No, they don’t always get it right on everything, but they did this time when it really counted.

There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said over the past week. If you have been reading our comments section, you have seen a wide range of emotions from the civil, to the vulgar. All of our Nelson family is hurting, regardless of who you are.

I know this week I held my wife and son just a little bit tighter. And I know that as I drive north out of Greenfield toward Afton I feel something missing. Though we never knew you personally Mrs. Page, we miss you already. Bad. Nelson has lost a precious member of its family.

We continue to follow the story here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: News

About Tommy: View author profile.

Comments (13)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Milly Colella says:

    Very nice write up Tommy. I didn’t know Opal either but heard many wonderful comments about her and know how sad the locals are. I also commend the sheriff and police dept for the wonderful job they did. I’m glad it’s over but for all her friend and relatives it will linger on for many years.

  2. Sarah Ponton says:

    I agree. You verbalized quite eloquently what most of us, I believe, are feeling. I didn’t know her either but I teach high school, where many of my students remembered her from kindergarten with fondness and profound sadness as they followed the story. One student in my class (who knew her ) said yesterday, “If the people (suspects) even knew how she was and asked her for money, she would have just given it to them. That’s how she was.” This statement hammering home what a senseless crime this was.

  3. Homer Barnswallow says:

    Eloquent write-up, Tommy. If you stay in Nelson long enough, you will find a common thread that binds us all. Yes, we are all struck by this tragedy. Thank you for the excellent coverage.
    You have, perhaps unknowingly, provided one of the best therapies a community could ask for in a case such as this: providing an avenue for citizens to express their feelings, as you say, from “civil” to “vulgar”. Not to mention all of the editorial review that must go into spontaneous comments on the open airwaves, it simply took guts on your part to make that option available. When something as incomprehensible as this happens, sometimes the only solace to be found is in written expression. Thank you for your contributions in covering this tragedy.

  4. Ron says:

    Well said. Bad things do happen to good (or great) people. The important thing is that the good people of Nelson County continue to care for each other, watch out for each other, and work for the best. We can’t just look the other way and say that it doesn’t affect me, because it does.

  5. Helene Dodge says:

    Thank you, Sheriff Brooks and everyone at the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office and those who assisted from Augusta, and thank you, Tommy, for saying it so well.

  6. Millie Steele says:

    What a thoughtful piece you have written, Tommy. My husband and I love Nelson Country Life and appreciate the sensitive way you all handled this situation. We lived in Northern Virginia for over 25 years and one might think we would become jaded to these events. But something awful happened in our lives as well when Ms Page was so brutally murdered. This peaceful, beautiful place we live in suddenly was shattered with horror that something like this happened here. We are “transplants” like yourself but we have come to feel so at home here as if we had lived here much longer. The people of Nelson County are friendly, honest, hard-working, salt of the earth people and we feel like family here. And we feel we have lost a member of our family. Our hearts go out to the Page family.

  7. Martha says:

    Wonderful write up. I live in Fluvanna and am from Amherst County. There are sad people all over about this. Its hard to think this could happen in beautiful Nelson County to someone so well thought of and respected. I too know and have known people as she was described. My mother for one who is 83 and lives alone. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of Nelson County.

  8. JESSIE says:

    GREAT WRITE-UP THANK YOU

    TODAY WE LEARNED OF YOUR DEATH
    TODAY WE ALL CRIED AND FELT SORROW
    TODAY WE WONDERED WHY YOU
    TODAY WE MORON FOR YOU
    TODAY WE LEARNED JUST HOW MUCH YOU WAS LOVED

    NOW THAT TODAY HAS MOVED ON WE STILL ASK OURSELVES THE SAME QUESTIONS
    BUT THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION IS MORE CLEAR TODAY
    THAT THE LORD NEEDED YOU EVEN MORE, HE HAS MANY CHILDREN FOR YOU TO TEACH UP IN HEAVEN
    AND MANY MORE FOR YOU TO BE A GURDON ANGLE TO HERE ON EARTH WE KNOW THAT YOU WILL BE GUIDING THEM IN SOME WAY FROM YOUR HOME IN HEAVEN
    WE ALSO KNOW THAT THE MOMENT THAT YOU WAS HURT YOU FORGAVE THE ONES WHO DONE THIS TO YOU, THAT IS THE PERSON THAT YOU WHERE
    NOW IF WE CAN ALL REMEMBER HOW YOU WERE THAN MAYBE WE CAN FORGIVE AND MAKE OUR LIVES MEAN AS MUCH AS YOUR DID
    FOR THOSE WHO ARE JUDGING THE PARENTS OF THE YOUNG MEN WHO DID THIS AWFUL CRIME
    YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW HOW THE PARENTS RAISED THERE CHILDREN YOU WERE NOT IN THE HOME OF THESE CHILDREN AND WE SHOULD NOT JUDGE THE PARENTS FOR SOMETHING THEY HAD NO CONTROL OVER – THINK OF THAT WHEN YOUR CHILD DOES SOMETHING WRONG
    THERE IS LITTLE ROOM TO JUDGE OTHERS FOR WE ALL ARE SINNERS AT SOME POINT IN OUR LIVE – WE HAVE DONE THING WE ARE NOT TO PROUD OF, IT IS UP TO GOD TO JUDGE AT JUDGMENT DAY.

  9. Cheryl says:

    What a wonderful write up. I knew Mrs. Page from the time my daughter was 5 and in kindergarten at Rockfish until the present. Mrs. Page was a member of my mother’s church, and you couldn’t find a more caring and giving person. Whether we would see her at church functions such as the Harvest Sale, or helping in the kitchen when the Church was making apple butter or canning fruits and vegetables for the Harvest Sale, she always had a smile on her face and made time to speak to everyone she would see. Nelson County and Rodes Methodist Church have lost a wonderful member of their community. She will be missed greatly by everyone who knew her. I also want to thank Sheriff Brooks and his department along with the other law enforcement agencies for catching these suspects as quickly as they did. Our hearts and prayers go out to Mrs. Page’s family and friends for this tragic loss.

  10. Elia says:

    This is tragic to have happened in Nelson. What is more tragic is that 2 young men decided to throw away their lives. It is not acceptable what they did and by no means am I defending what they did but having known of these two guys and hearing things about town until parents take responsibility of their children and teach some values and morales and to have a conscience about life these things continue to happen.And this is not to blame the parents of the guys. This is to say that you are a product of your environment. This is the one big incident that has happened. There are more situations that go on in Nelson than the average person thinks. Only the ones that happen in such a tragedy as this are brought to light or even thought upon. Hopefully this woman (whom I did not know) will not have died in vain. Have her death be a wake up call. I work in a prison and see this type of stuff all the time. The world is changing. And Nelson is changing with it. And changing fast. A wonderful lady lost her life. Very tragic. Someone who touched alot of peoples lives. Know that injustices can touch anyone.

  11. John says:

    Tommy, your sensitivity is remarkable, generously giving credit to all around you… and all the while providing a vehicle for those who love Mrs Page and Nelson to express and process our feelings. You have gotten the balance you sought just right.

  12. This is a much better message board with a realistic common sense attitude. A bright side for this whole situation! There are a lot of helpless emotional people at the court house right now my heart goes out to them all……….

  13. Jessica says:

    RIP MRS. PAGE